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by Dave Rome
March 12, 2020
Photography by Park Tool
Hydraulic disc brakes are fast becoming the norm across all forms of bikes, and while they’re typically low maintenance, the hydraulic fluid within sometimes needs refreshing or purging. A bleed kit is the right tool for the task and just about every brake manufacturer offers its own kits, and there are countless aftermarket options, too.
The world’s largest bicycle tool company, Park Tool, has just tipped its blue hat into the bleed kit market with two new universal kits. Why two kits? Well, some brands (such as SRAM and Hayes) use automotive-type DOT brake fluid, while others (such as Shimano, Campagnolo and Magura) use gentler mineral oil, and the rubber seals within the brakes and bleed kits don’t play well with the wrong fluid. As a result, Park Tool offers the new BKD-1 (for DOT fluid) and BKM-1 (for mineral oil) kits, and together they aim to be a one-stop-shop for bleeding all common disc brakes on the market today.
Park Tool certainly isn’t the first company to offer a universal brake bleed kit (the likes of Clarks, Alligator and Jagwire have done so for years), however, Park Tool’s new pro-level kits offer a few clever and unique features.
Enter the syringe mount. Sometimes bleeding brakes can make you wish you were a three-armed-mutant, and Park Tool’s bleed kits may hold the answer by holding the caliper syringe for you. Here a simple-looking strap attaches to either the fork or rear stays and the syringe then simply clips into it allowing you to free up a hand.
Each kit includes two high-quality syringes, hoses with shutoff-clips and various machined stainless steel and aluminium hose connectors which are then colour-coded for easy identification. The kits also include a couple of modular bleed blocks to keep the caliper pistons in their bores, while the mineral oil kit includes a bleed cup for newer Shimano brakes.
The syringes look extremely similar to the lovely ones that SRAM uses in its Pro kit. These are a big step up from the generic plastic syringes included in most consumer-level kits.
Arguably none of those smaller pieces are all that unique, but there is value in buying from a company like Park Tool that typically makes it easy to source spare and replacement parts.
Not included in either kit is brake fluid which can vary between brake manufacturers, or the spanners and hex/torx keys to open bleed ports with.
Each kit includes a reusable plastic storage box with room to spare.
All up the new Park Tool Bleed Kits appear to be one of the better-thought-out and long-lasting universal kits available. Sadly such thoughtfulness comes at a significant price. The BKD-1 is priced at US$118 and the BKM-1 at US$140 (international pricing is to be confirmed — check with your local Park Tool distributor for availability), meaning both are likely to be most popular in pro workshops, while casual home users are more likely to find value in alternative (albeit more basic) options.